Our incredible shrinking moon

By Mario Carr

Our nearest celestial neighbour, the Moon, is shrinking as its interior cools.

According to a recent analysis of moonquakes detected by the Apollo astronauts more than 50 years ago, the Moon is becoming smaller by about 50 meters over the last several hundred million years. As it shrinks, its surface wrinkles like the skin of a grape when it becomes a raisin.

However, the Moon’s surface is brittle forming thrust faults where one section is pushed up against another causing moonquakes. The Moon isn’t the only object in our solar system shrinking. The planet Mercury has significantly larger thrust faults indicating it’s shrinking more than the Moon.

Here are June stargazing events, which are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

June 10 – Jupiter is at opposition and at its closest point to the Earth. It can be seen all night rising in the east at sunset and setting in the west at sunrise.

June 14 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m, Spectator Building, 44 Frid Street, Hamilton. Free admission, door prizes and everybody welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected and appreciated. Professor Brian McNamara from the University of Waterloo will discuss 1919-2019: A Century of Black Holes.

June 16 – The Moon is close to Jupiter in the early evening sky.

June 18 – Mercury and Mars meet low in the evening sky. The Moon is also close to Saturn later in the evening.

June 21 – Summer official begins at 11:54 a.m. during the Solstice. It’s also the longest day of the year.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.
Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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April’s Lyrid meteor shower

By Mario Carr

Start looking up to the heavens from mid April until the end of the month and you’ll see the Lyrid meteor shower.

The best time to see the shower will be during its peak on the evening of April 22 and after midnight. This year, the Moon will wash out most of the fainter meteors, but you might still see some bright ones.

The best place to see it is from a dark location laying on a lounge chair and looking up at the night sky. Most meteors will appear to be radiating for the constellation Lyra but some can appear anywhere in the sky.

Here are April stargazing events, which are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

April 11 – Mercury is at its highest point above the horizon. This is the best time to see the planet low in the eastern sky just before dawn.

April 12 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m, Spectator Building, 44 Frid Street, Hamilton. Free admission, door prizes and everybody welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected and appreciated. Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Kitchener Waterloo Centre president Stephen Holmes will talk about SETI: How numerous are alien civilizations?

April 16/17 – Mercury and Venus are close, low in the dawn sky.

April 19 – This month’s full Moon is called the Pink Moon by early First Nations people since it marked the arrival of moss pink, which is one of the first flowers of spring.

April 25 – The Moon is close to Saturn just before sunrise.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at http://www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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January’s red blood moon

By Mario Carr

Don’t miss this year’s first and only total lunar eclipse, which begins during the late evening of January 20.

Earth’s outer shadow will start to cross the surface of the Moon at 9:37 p.m. The total lunar eclipse begins 11:42 p.m. as the Moon starts turning red. It will turn a deeper shade of red until it reaches totality at 12:13 a.m. when Earth’s shadow completely covers its surface.

The Moon’s surface will them become lighter until 12:44 p.m. when the total eclipse ends. Seeing the blood red moon of a total lunar eclipse is one of nature’s wonders. Make sure you brave the fidget temperature to see it. We won’t see another total lunar eclipse until May 26, 2021. The last time one was back in 2015.

Here are January stargazing events, which are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

Jan. 11 — Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m, Spectator Building, 44 Frid Street, Hamilton. Free admission, door prizes and everybody welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected and appreciated. Award-winning journalist Dan Falk will talk about his new book The Science of Shakespeare.

Jan. 12 – The crescent Moon is below Mars in the evening sky.

Jan. 19 — Scope Clinic, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Spectator Building 44 Frid St, Hamilton. Free admission and everyone welcome.

Jan. 22 — Venus is close and above Jupiter at dawn.

Jan. 30 – The crescent Moon is above Jupiter at dawn.

Jan. 31 – The crescent Moon is close to Venus at dawn.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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December’s Geminids meteor shower

By Mario Carr

The Geminds Meteor Shower will peak December 13 and 14.

It’s often known as the best meteor shower of the year however frigid temperatures discourage many casual observers. It’s called the Geminids Meteor Shower because it looks as though shooting stars are coming form the Gemini constellation.

This year, you don’t have to stay up all night to see the show. You could glimpse a few shooting stars at 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 13, as Gemini rises above the eastern horizon. If you wait a little longer between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. when the crescent moon sets, more shooting stars will be visible.

Here are December stargazing events, which are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar. The 2019 calendar is currently on sale and available at the next meeting.

Dec. 14 — Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m, Spectator Building, 44 Frid Street, Hamilton. Free admission, door prizes and everybody welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected and appreciated. Francois van Heerden will discuss how to use video-assisted observing for astronomy public outreach in light-polluted areas. There will also be a Christmas Social.

Dec. 14 – The Moon is near Mars in the evening sky.

Dec. 20 – The Moon is in the Hyades star cluster.

Dec. 21 – Winter officially begins with the winter solstice at 5:23 p.m. Mercury is also close to Jupiter, low in the morning sky.

Dec. 22 – The Full Moon is called the Cold Moon.

Christmas Eve – The Moon is close to the Beehive star cluster in the evening sky.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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Hamilton Amateur Astronomers scope clinic and calendar

By Mario Carr

If you’re curious or new to the hobby of astronomy, you’ll want to attend the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers Scope Clinic on Friday November 16.

Doors open at 6 p.m. at the Spectator Building 44 Frid Street, Hamilton for this free family-friendly event where everyone is welcome. A half dozen mini workshops to help you get started in astronomy begin at 7 p.m.

Knowledgeable club members will also have their telescopes and gear set-up to answer your celestial questions. You’ll learn where to start, the type of gear you should buy and more importantly avoid.

If you’re already an amateur astronomer, this is a great opportunity to take the hobby to the next level. An optional non-perishable food donation for the Hamilton Food Share program will also be collected and appreciated. While you’re there, don’t forget to purchase the 2019 Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

All photographs are taken by club members and profits go to the club. The calendar will also be available at the club’s November 9 meeting at the Spectator Building 7:30-9:30 p.m, Free admission, door prizes and everybody welcome. Long-time member John Gauvreau will present an educational and entertaining discussion called 25 Cents Worth of Astronomy.

Here are November stargazing events listed in the 2018 calendar.

November 9 – Thin crescent Moon above Mercury low in the evening sky.

November 11 – Crescent Moon close to Saturn at sunset.

November 15 – First-quarter Moon is close to Mars in the evening sky.

November 17 – The Leonid Meteor Shower peaks.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.
Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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Seeing Uranus with just binoculars

By Mario Carr

On October 23, you could see distant planet Uranus with just a pair of binoculars when it’s at opposition.

For most of the year, the planet is too distant and too dim to see with your naked eyes or binoculars. During opposition, it’s a different story. The planet is closer than at any other time of the year and will appear a little brighter than usual. It can also be seen from sun-up to sun-set.

Some young people might even see it with their naked eyes. For most of us, we’ll need the aid of binoculars. Look for it rising in the east in the constellation Aries at sunset. It will reach its highest point in the sky just after midnight, as it moves southward when it sets in the west at sunrise.

Here are October stargazing events, which are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

October 11 – The Moon is above Jupiter low in the southwest at dusk.

October 12 — Hamilton Amateur Astronomers annual general meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m, Spectator Building, 44 Frid Street, Hamilton. Free admission, door prizes and everybody welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected and appreciated.

October 14 — The Moon is close to Saturn in the evening sky.

October 17&18 – The Moon is close to Mars in the southern evening sky.

October 21 – The Orionid meteor shower peaks after midnight.

October 24 – The Full Moon is called the Hunter’s Moon. Venus is also behind the Sun, or at inferior conjunction and can’t be seen.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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Perseid meteor shower event sets record

By Mario Carr

Interest in local astronomy is growing.

On August 11, a staggering 919 people converged at Binbrook Conservation Area to take part in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers Persieds Meteor Shower event.

Skies were clear all day and it seemed like a perfect night to watch meteors. However, just as the park gates opened, clouds rolled in proving that astronomy can be a frustrating hobby.

Half way through the evening, some clouds thinned, and you could hear the ums and ahs as delighted visitors watched meteors steak across the summer sky. Those who attended also had a chance to look through telescopes at various heavenly bodies including the rings of Saturn and Mars.

If you haven’t seen Mars through a telescope yet. Take a look. It’s still bright red in the south eastern evening sky but not for very long.

Here are September stargazing events, which are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

September 8 – The crescent Moon is above Regulas and Mercury low in the dawn sky.

September 12 – The crescent Moon is above Venus at sunset.

September 13 – The crescent Moon is above Jupiter during evening twilight.

September 14 — Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m, Spectator Building, 44 Frid Street, Hamilton. Free admission, door prizes and everybody welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected and appreciated.

September 19 – The Moon is near Mars in the evening sky.

September 21 – Venus is at its brightest.

September 22 – Autumn officially begins with the Equinox at 9:54 p.m.

September 24 – This year’s Harvest Moon rises at sunset.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at http://www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter:

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